An Open Letter to Real Housewives star Catherine Ommanney from a concerned fellow Brit living in Washington
When I first read that there was going to be a British character on the the Real Housewives of Washington, D.C., I was very excited. Because there aren’t that many British people in Washington and I didn’t have anyone to watch the World Cup with, and frankly it’d be nice to have someone in the cultural zeitgeist who knows about things such as cricket and Pimm’s and the importance of keeping one’s voice low while discussing things such as marital discord and hemorrhoids in public.
But now that I have actually made your acquaintance (i.e., seen you twice on television), I have begun to doubt that you are, in fact, an authentic Brit. Here’s why:
1. You’re horribly, unforgivably rude. Any well-raised Brit would rather spend a whole evening drinking battery acid than question his or her host’s quality of beverage (out loud, at least). My father once opened the same present (an excruciatingly boring book about airplanes) three times at a birthday party and never said a word to any of the givers. You know why? Because we’re raised to be polite, and politeness means that when you’re invited to sweet Aunt Frances’s house, you don’t swan in, demand a drink, and then make a face when your wine looks more like Salahi Chardonnay than Château Lafite. You accept what you’re offered and say thank you.
2. You’re unbelievably boastful. Common practice, when one is British, is to be humble about one’s achievements. This is something I admittedly found tricky when first moving to the United States. If someone compliments you on your appearance, you don’t smile and talk about how people mistake you for Angelina Jolie’s younger sister all the time. A more appropriate response would be “Me? I’m an absolute pig. My acne’s terrible, this sweater has a chocolate stain on it, and my husband calls me Plumpy.” When people ask you about your husband and the President, you don’t brag about how it was all thanks to Charles that Obama was elected, and how 43 actually responded to an invitation you once sent him. Instead, you embrace discretion. Which leads me to …
3. You don’t kiss and tell! It’s tacky. When you’re trying to persuade people that you’re an upper-class Brit who was raised properly and knows that the correct term is “riding,” not “horse riding,” don’t sell a story to the Daily Mail (the tabloid for rich people who are too stupid to read a broadsheet) about the time you snogged Prince Harry. It makes you look like a lush and, even worse, a cougar. Nobody likes the slovenly aunt who hangs around at family weddings and tries to grope the 17-year-olds—it’s embarrassing. And nobody likes a 34-year-old woman (I’m being generous) who tells the world about the time the six-foot-three prince took said fragile (98-pound) woman in his manly arms and kissed her. And don’t brag about the fact that you weigh only 98 pounds, because if this is true, I’m Cindy Crawford and Michaele loves Tareq for his personality.
Granted, there are a few authentically British things about you, such as your overwhelming passion for alcohol, your generic blond highlights, and your seeming inattentiveness to your children. But I’m disturbed that the above discrepancies mean that you’re giving British women a bad name. So please, hold off on the booze, be nice to people, and cut out the snotty attitude for a week or two. It’ll be better for everyone in the long run.